Sean O’Malley is no stranger to getting called out. When you’re an up-and-coming UFC fighter with a sizable following like him, it comes with the territory.
But for O’Malley to get put on blast by a UFC newbie who competes two divisions above his own, as Paddy Pimblett recently did before his octagon debut? That was a new one. But it was also something O’Malley didn’t mind hearing from the popular Liverpudlian lightweight.
“I think that could be a potential superfight down the line,” O’Malley told host Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour.
Months before his first-round knockout of Luigi Vendramini at UFC Vegas 36, Pimblett sat down with MMA On Point and took aim at O’Malley, calling the American “a bit of a bitch ass” who was going to get beat “as soon as he gets in there with a decent grappler.”
O’Malley said he had “no idea” who Pimblett was at the time of the initial comments. That’s obviously changed now, but O’Malley also isn’t bothered by them.
He understand what Pimblett is trying to do, and in a weird way, he kind of appreciates it.
“I didn’t know of him until the UFC kind of started posting about him, and I obviously don’t follow him, so I just had a bunch of people telling me, ‘Yo, Paddy’s talking sh*t,’ and saying he was talking sh*t, so I’m not going to not talk sh*t back,” O’Malley said. “I heard him. He’s talking sh*t so I’ve got to talk a little sh*t back, right? So yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know what his beef was with me, but as ugly and stupid as he may look, he’s kind of smart. He’s talking about the biggest names in the UFC.
“I’m clearly one of the biggest draws. I’m the cash cow and he knows that, so why not? He’s got to use my name, he’s got to say my name. It makes sense. Like I said, people want to see characters. He understands that. He’s going to be a character, he’s going to say what he needs to say. He went out and performed the way he needed to, aside from almost getting knocked out. I think that could be a potential big fight. I don’t know, we’ll see. That was my first time I’ve ever seen him fight, we’ll see how he does against [better competition]. It’s similar with me — people want to see me fight top guys, people want to see him fight top guys — so we’ll see how he competes with the top [of his division].”
Though they’re both unranked, O’Malley and Pimblett have found success early on in their MMA careers by embracing the entertainment side of the fight game.
They’ve both amassed social media followings that dwarf many of the top contenders in the world in their respective divisions, and if nothing else, both seem to agree on the importance of going the extra mile to make sure you stand out in this current cut-and-paste era of the UFC.
“I think it depends on if you want to make a lot of money or not,” O’Malley said. “You could be in the UFC, look the same [as everyone else], be a boring ass wrestler and make $20,000 [to show] and $20,000 [to win] and just kind of live that life — not sell merch, not do vlogs, not game [on Twitch], not do other things outside [the sport], just be boring and live. You could do that. Or you could be a character and venture off to other things and be a millionaire. It just depends, what do you want to do? It’s just different personalities.”